Journal of Consumer Culture
Credit is ubiquitous in the life of Chilean households, the oldest neoliberal society. It is a key feature in the budgeting, shopping, and consuming practices of families. Consequently, to be indebted is a normal expectation in Chile. Families engage with the ‘necessary evil’ of credit in different ways, representing a massive, regular use of credit as short, medium and long-term leverage tools, with store cards being the main source of credit for lower and moderate income families in general. Moral obligations together with conventional and unconventional financial knowledge accompany the everyday situated economic practices of families.
Addressing both the normalisation and the moralisation of credit, I attempt to make the case for the ongoing resignification of credit and debt and the evolving moral assessments of indebtedness, focusing on moderate and low-income households, namely those who embrace credit during recent decades. This article contributes to the discussion about the meaning of debt, to understand the financialisation of everyday life by looking at situated economic practices, and to recognise the social, moral and relational foundations of the economic practices. From the coming of the expansion of credit, households have learnt to deal with economic rationalities and internal and external moral judgements in order to justify their use of credit. Together with structural factors, this develops indebtedness assessments from detachment to naturalisation, placing credit and debt in the centre of ‘decent life’ expectations.
Como citar: Marambio-Tapia, A. (2022). The evolving moral economy of indebtedness in Chile: Resignifying credit and debt in the oldest neoliberal society: Journal of Consumer Culture. https://doi.org/10.1177/14695405221100383